November 14, 2015

by steve laidlaw on November 14, 2015

Datsyuk's return, Howard stumbles, Dubinsky hurt and more.

UPDATE: Mark Streit has undergone surgery to repair a pubic plate detachment, which sounds like some kind of groin/hip injury. He will miss six weeks. This might be just enough of a window to kick start Michael Del Zotto so it is time to dust him off once again. The dark horse is Evgeny Medvedev who has also been seeing power play time for the Flyers. And the super-duper dark horse is Shayne Gostisbehere who has been called up to fill the vacancy. 

However, this probably does not help the Flyers' power play woes, which we covered yesterday.

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It finally happened, Jimmy Howard had a stinker. He’s been getting the majority of the home contests, while Petr Mrazek has been wrestling the road games. Both have been pretty stellar but Howard allowed three goals on just 14 shots. For a team that has been consistently getting outshot all season to lose when they double up their opponent 28-14 in shots has got to a bit demoralizing.

The Wings are in action again today, on the road, in Boston and you can bet that it will be Mrazek in goal. Here is his shot to run with the starting gig for a week until the Wings go back-to-back again next Friday/Saturday.

Pavel Datsyuk did indeed return for the Wings skating over 20 minutes and leading the team in shots with four.

You can check out the Wings’ lines from last night courtesy of Frozen Pool:

17.41%

EV

LARKIN,DYLAN – NYQUIST,GUSTAV – TATAR,TOMAS

12.44%

EV

ATHANASIOU,ANDREAS – PULKKINEN,TEEMU – SHEAHAN,RILEY

10.95%

EV

ABDELKADER,JUSTIN – DATSYUK,PAVEL – ZETTERBERG,HENRIK

5.97%

EV

GLENDENING,LUKE – HELM,DARREN – MILLER,ANDREW

 

Things got seriously jumbled around as the game wore on so you may wish to take these lines with a grain of salt. Tonight’s game will provide a little more insight though it may be a little while before anything settles.

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Melker Karlsson was originally slated to skate on the third line upon his return to the Sharks lineup. Not so. The winger has been skating on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Cushy work if you can get it. Maybe Karlsson offer some value if you are in a pinch.

The Sharks are spending the next week on the road but they also play five times between tonight and next Sunday so if you are looking to make some waiver claims who will provide excellent volume, look no further.

The problem with that move is the Sharks play most of their contests on heavy nights (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) and simply are not producing much.

The guy to pick up might be Joel Ward, who has 14 points in 16 games and is still available in 70% of Yahoo! leagues. However, Ward has slowed down a bit and was notably absent from the top PP unit on the Sharks’ lone opportunity last night.

Instead, the Sharks went with two defensemen providing Marc-Edouard Vlasic an opportunity. Vlasic notched an assist though it was not on the power play. He makes for another desperation option due to the volume of games available but again, the Sharks have not done much of late, so it may be best to look elsewhere.

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The Blue Jackets were without the Crosby Stopper, Brandon Dubinsky for last night’s contest. He was absent with an upper-body injury. Dubinsky was there in spirit, however, as the Blue Jackets took turns harassing the Penguins captain all game.

It is hard to tell if all the harassment worked or not given how Crosby and the Penguins have struggled all season but full marks to the Jackets for keeping them quiet all night before a late flurry with Marc-Andre Fleury pulled bought the Penguins one goal and damn near led to a tie game had Patric Hornqvist not kicked the puck in.

Ryan Murray was supposed to be a healthy scratch but the Dubinsky injury forced him into action as Dalton Prout was shuffled to the wing on the fourth line. Murray responded with a power-play assist. No word on if this will buy him some rope with the coaching staff or not.

If I had to guess, it is Kevin Connauton, not Murray who is in the dog house now after Connauton took three separate minor penalties, including two straight in the third period. Both of those penalties were drawn by Hornqvist, who responded to Columbus’ physicality by morphing into a bull on skates and bringing a relentless effort that would not be denied.

Is Connauton really to blame for being a dish caught in that metaphorical china shop? I’ll put nothing past John Tortorella.

Dubinsky, by the way, is questionable for today’s game.

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Back by popular demand was the pairing of Kris Letang and Olli Maatta but the results for Pittsburgh were largely the same: a mostly perimeter based attack that could not get going, a dreadful power play, and a brilliant performance by Fleury squandered.

You cannot read too much into the ice times from this one because the Penguins had so many power-play opportunities that it skewed everything towards their skilled players but Maatta skated only 17:36 in this one. But Maatta is averaging only 16:25 per game so clearly there is something up.

Before he was shut down for the season Maatta was averaging over 20 minutes per game last year and he at least averaged 18:30 in his rookie season. Maatta cannot even get a regular shift on the penalty kill right now, which I suppose the Penguins can justify with the league’s fifth best PK.

Maatta has not been particularly noticeable one way or the other when I have watched but maybe there is a conditioning issue going on here. If the Letang-Maatta pairing sticks, I would expect that his minutes climb back towards 20 per game.

For more on the Penguins and Fleury’s brilliant play, Adam Gretz provides a good read.

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Another game without a goal for Alexander Ovechkin. It doesn’t help that he keeps getting them wiped off the board by reviews but now, according to Barry Trotz, he is starting to feel the pressure.  Three games without a goal, it’s practically time to panic.

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That’s seven starts in a row for Karri Ramo. He has won four of those but only three of them have been quality (save percentage above .910) so you still cannot safely roll him out there. It seems pretty clear that the Flames don’t trust Joni Ortio at all right now.

Jonas Hiller could be back within a week, which brings up decision time once again. If the Flames don’t trust Ortio but don’t want to lose him to waivers either, they are stuck with this three-headed monster. They could always waive Ramo once again but in this results-based business his winning percentage over the past couple of weeks works in his favour.

No easy answers.

Here’s an interesting look at how Johnny Gaudreau’s video-game-like skills have made him one of the league’s most potent offensive players:

A major reason why Gaudreau is able to create so many scoring chances for the Flames is how often he completes high leverage passes. Only five forwards in the NHL complete passes to the slot at even strength more often than he does, and he’s tied for fifth in successful passes off the rush with Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane.

The Flames had split Gaudreau off with Sam Bennett and Michael Frolik for a bit and that seemed to help the offense but he has been back with Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler of late. Kickstarting the former two seems to be paying dividends as Bennett has scored 10 points in his last nine games while Folik has eight points over that same stretch.

Don’t place huge expectations on either Bennett or Frolik but they really should be able to make it to 45 points this season.

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Anton Khudobin got the start for Anaheim but no such luck despite some brilliant saves. We won’t see the Ducks again until next week at which point it will likely be back to Freddie Andersen.

Only one goal for the Ducks but at least it was Corey Perry who is starting to roll now up to five goals on the season.

Rickard Rakell, once again skating on the top line notched an assist. Great daily fantasy value if that’s your bag.

Ryan Kesler might have dented the post with his chance late in the third period. He hit it so dead on that it bounced right back to him for a second chance that was blocked by a sprawling defenseman. The pucks aren’t going in but Kesler has been buzzing for several games now.

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It is great to see Johnny Boychuk back on the Islanders’ top power-play unit. They have not really needed him there since they are clicking at 20.4% on the power play but they have struggled recently, now just 1/21 here in November.

Boychuk didn’t actually help matters last night as the Islanders went 0/5 on the power play but they looked mighty dangerous. Boychuk was a stat stuffer with an assist, a plus-two rating, six SOG, four PIM, two hits and four blocked shots.

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I am not a huge fan of hockey fights. I think we know too much about the negative consequences and for the most part, it doesn’t actually add to the entertainment value of the game. That said, I love fights in fantasy hockey. Kevin Bieksa and Chris Stewart want to get all frustrated and throw a conniption with Matt Martin on the ice? Okay, I’ll take 16 PIM in one shot. That’s just dumb luck having all those players combine for such an outburst but that is the way it goes with PIM, especially with how few fights there are these days.

By the way, have we reached the point where PIM is a completely negative stat that we should just drop entirely from fantasy hockey? Since we’ve basically debunked the whole idea behind fighting to provide momentum for your team there really isn’t anything positive about getting PIM. Sure, taking a penalty to stop a goal is good but how often does that actually happen? And you still had to be out there for the defensive breakdown that led to the scoring chance against. If you are held culpable with a minus any time you are on the ice for a goal against then you should be culpable for penalties as well.

Consider this my annual campaign to make penalties drawn a fantasy stat and either remove PIM entirely or make it the negative it so obviously is. With scoring as difficult as it is today, just try telling me that drawing penalties isn’t a tremendously valuable skill.

Last year Travis Yost wrote an incredible piece on the value of drawing penalties. Seriously, fantasy league providers, the stats are out there. It’s 2015, it can’t be that hard.

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There are murmurs of Alexander Semin’s return to the Canadiens lineup this weekend – presumably alongside Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller.

After reading all this stuff about how the Canadiens are built on speed I do wonder if Semin simply isn’t a fit for this lineup. He has a bunch of intriguing skills but speed isn’t really one of them. And his spot on the power-play has been grabbed by Dale Weise, who has become an effective net-front presence. Semin isn’t going to play that role so they would have to drastically change the geometry of their second power play unit if they wanted to work him back in.

If Semin has a future with this team then he needs to play to stay engaged but if he doesn’t then maybe this is just about a showcase to see if another team is interested.

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Gabriel Landeskog has been suspended two games for his hit on Brad Marchand the other night. Seems fair. Marchand, meanwhile has been fined for his actions following the hit.

Mikhail Grigorenko notched an assist during his turn on the top line but all of the fourth-liners received time alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene after Landeskog was ejected so no guarantee that he gets the job while Landeskog is suspended.

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Teemu Pulkkinen has become our first player fined for diving this season. I love this stuff. The hit to the pocket book is mostly negligible, though a couple thousand dollars is never negligible, but where it really stings is the public shaming.

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Duncan Keith will indeed return today. Did you sell high on Brent Seabrook yet? You have like 10 hours, give or take, before the bell tolls.

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Mike Weber has undergone knee surgery and is week-to-week. Not much fantasy relevance here but if you were wondering how the Sabres would fit Zach Bogosian back into the lineup (he is currently day-to-day) here is the room.

Of course, the Sabres are in an enviable spot with four right-handed shots on defense when Bogosian returns. That could mean Mark Pysyk loses time even with the Weber injury, though that isn’t a huge loss for fantasy owners either.

There is potential for a trade here however.

If you are wondering, Bogosian probably cuts into some of Rasmus Ristolainen’s even-strength time, which could be a benefit to burning the youngster out.

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Well this is unfortunate news, Martin Havlat is leaving the Blues for personal reasons and has thus been placed on waivers for the purposes of terminating his contract.

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Great stuff in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

9. Ideally, though, the idea is for the league and players to do this together. There is a ton of skepticism — we’ve heard all this before — but a few sources on both sides say there is a willingness and desire for more scoring. The targets are the pants and sweaters/upper-body padding. Ryan Miller is extremely unhappy he’s being pinpointed, but, unfortunately, he’s the example everyone’s using. The irony here is Miller worked to help decrease pad sizes a couple of years ago. As for gloves, there is real concern about injuries if those are cut down. One goalie pointed out that Carey Price got even better when the pads were shrunk, “but that’s OK, it should be up to talent, anyway.”

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And here’s some wicked insight from Friedman on a potential Eric Staal trade scenario:

I don’t know how much he specifically asked for, but I just heard they’re not close. I don’t know. And I’m on record as saying that I think Eric Staal could really use a change of scenery. And some guys don’t realize it until they go through it – how much it rejuvenates you. How much it changes you. I really think that the best thing that could happen for Eric Staal is to go somewhere else, be in a race, and maybe if he wants to he can go back to Carolina in the summer.

That seems like the perfect scenario for Carolina. Getting an asset for Staal and then potentially re-signing him in the offseason. It’s not unprecedented either, as we saw the Coyotes do this with Antoine Vermette. While Vermette has not done much for the Coyotes in his return due to injuries the assets they acquired are already paying dividends.

Klas Dahlbeck the defenseman acquired in the deal is proving to be NHL ready. He is not much of a fantasy asset but he is a good young defenseman in a league where teams are ALWAYS looking for those.

The Coyotes also added Nick Merkley with the 30th overall selection, which they got in that trade. He helps to fill out what has become a stocked prospect cupboard. Read more on him over at DobberProspects.

By the way, hat tip to Chris Nichols who hunts down all these radio spots and types them out for our perusal. Most of us don’t have the time or resources to listen to all these spots so to get these all in one place is an invaluable resource. Give him a follow @NicholsOnHockey. He usually has info like this on the daily.

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Dobber answers your fantasy hockey questions.

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Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.